Open Letter to Anne Rice

Dear Ms. Rice,

You posted the following on Facebook the other day (and followed up with a few other posts along the same vein):

“As I said before, I fear Christianity. I have found it to be an immoral religion. And I have found it to be a very very aggressive religion which does a great deal of harm in the world. Christians in America spend millions trying to influence legislation and elections to limit the rights of women and the rights of gays. They do not leave the rest of us alone. They do not respect the rest of us. I fear this. I wish those who call themselves Christians, and claim to be loving and good, would take some real moral responsibility for their religion and the things it has done historically and the things it is doing now.”

I’m a progressive Wiccan Christian. I go to seminary at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, which is probably the most progressive Christian seminary on the planet. There are many of us here who are fighting the good fight, talking and working on creating a more inclusive theology. We do exist.

Unfortunately, as my Christian History professor so rightly put it last week, we are a very small drop in a very big bucket.

Christianity is not monolithic. Hasn’t been since the beginning, and most certainly not since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door. I suggest you take a look at the work that Bishop Yvette Flunder and the City of Refuge in San Francisco is doing around radical inclusion. I am a member of that church, and I can tell you, it’s certainly not like any other church I’ve been in.

Better yet, get on a plane and come visit. 1 pm, Sundays, 1052 Howard Street in San Francisco. Oh, and this church, and it’s organization, has accepted me as a member, witchcraft and all.

My church understands the damage that the institution of Christianity has done. I understand this fully. I acknowledge Christianity’s horrid history. There’s no getting around that. But there’s some things to think about here:

1) Who is really to blame here? Can you blame all the Christians from all over the world for the damage that the people running the institutions have done? Should we have blamed you, when you were still Catholic, for the mistakes and damage of all the Popes, past and present? Should we condemn a kid as bad in a rural town in Oklahoma for the bigotry that his parents do in the name of Jesus? There are humans that are doing horrid things in the name of Christianity, there are those of us who are working to fix that, and then there are the innocents that get caught in the middle.

2) What really frustrates me, what really just makes me want to hurl a lot of profanity some days, are when prominent people, like yourself, yelling at the top of their lungs about how Christianity is so bad (and where are all these progressive Christians, and why won’t they do anything about X, Y, Z, OMGWTFBBQ!) is that while you’re bitching about it, there are those of us doing the work. It may not be big, it may not be the change you want right away, or some big in your face campaign, but we’re doing it. If I can help heal someone from pain, or give them comfort through prayer, then I’ve done healing in the name of Jesus. Sometimes, one needs to pick their battles.

3) And finally, where are you? What are you doing to help people like me change the face of Christianity? Where are your big donations to Dignity, or City of Refuge (that needs a lot of work done on it’s building to be able to serve it’s congregation), or the Women’s Ordination group, or any other progressive and radically inclusive church or organization? Are you coming to progressive Christian events and supporting the work we’re trying to do? It’s one thing to bitch online about it on Facebook, but let’s be real here: we don’t have millions of dollars. We can’t compete with the Rick Santorums, Mitt Romneys, Koch brothers, or the Pope. I know I won’t get paid to be a pastor in my church, nor do I expect to be. Most progressive pastors and ministers have to have day jobs, and boy would it be nice to have all that money that the mega-churches and the Roman Catholic church has. But we don’t. And yet, we are still there, still serving, and giving our own money, that we probably would really need for other things, in order for our church, and it’s message, to survive. So, I ask again, where is your support of the people trying to make change? We sure could use it.

I’m sorry for the damage you received in the Church. You’re not the only one, but just remember I, and others like me, are trying to work for change. There aren’t enough of us that have the national stage to be a force in the media, but we do what we can.

Many blessings,

Gina Pond

3 thoughts on “Open Letter to Anne Rice

  1. Thanks for this. There is so much damage, much of it very old, among Christians, it’s become almost impossible for many people raised in the various strands of that faith to function as spiritual beings at all. But there is not point in blaming the suffering in the present on the suffering in the past. It’s all suffering, and it’s all got to stop.

    I don’t know if i ever told you this, Gina, but my mother was a Christian witch. She felt very isolated, and practiced both her Christianity and her Craft mostly in secret. She was not supported by either her Wiccan coven or my Jewish Atheist father, and in the 70s and 80s she was most certainly not supported by the wider pagan or christian cultures

    Everyone needs and deserves a safe spirituaI home. That’s what churches and temples are supposed to be. I am glad you have created one.
    xo
    rj

    1. Wow, that’s really cool about your mom. I get the isolation thing, though. Even with a very supportive coven, school, and church, there are some times where I feel isolated. The funny thing is that it’s mostly in pagan/Craft circles. Sunday was weird because half of my friends on Facebook were posting stuff about Zombie Jesus, while the other half were saying “Happy Easter”. Very weird.
      I mentioned it in a previous blog post that it was particularly in the pagan community where I felt like I was coming out again because I didn’t know how people would react to me. Most people who are close to me are pretty cool about it. I bet in the 70’s and 80’s though, you just didn’t go there. I’m glad she was true to herself, though.

  2. Thank you for saying this so well Gina. I fear for Mrs. Rice the moment I heard she was becoming a Catholic. I could see disaster looming. Cathicism is not hospitable to self determined women, nor do its leaders take kindly to having their doctrines, actions or political positions challenged. More so by a free thinking, successful, self made female. There seemed like two possible outcomes: 1) they would break her spirit and the world would lose a vital talent or 2) she would regret her decision, leave and be forced to denounce the church. There were those who publicly pleaded with her to “take up” with a more progressive denomination or at least one that did not exclude women and “do such harm” throughout the world. (At that moment, the UCC’s “God Is Still Speaking campain had launched and the “club bouncer” TV spot was attracting a lot of media attention). But, for whatever reasons, she seemed to only recognize the legitimacy of the Catholic church. (I seem to recall that she wrote a response to that effect).
    So it is grievous now to see attacks on all of Christendom. I hope that she will hear the voices of progressives this time. As you so eloquently point out, she could do so much good by adding her voice to our cause and begin to change the conversation.

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